Firstly, I must be honest that whilst I met one of our members in Lenzie in March, I mentioned Lerwick in the context of an online meeting with another member: although I did visit members in Shetland in 2018.

Colin McInnes of McInnes Construction Services Ltd showed me two of his projects and introduced me to some of his team in Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire earlier this month. It’s always beneficial for me to see first hand what our members are building and discuss the current challenges affecting their business. Material delays and price inflation came up in my discussion with Colin, especially the impact on his build programmes given a seven-month delay for roof tiles.

We regularly update the guidance for members on these supply issues and we continue to voice how this is affecting local building firms to the media and policy makers across the UK.

Listening to members and taking action

Whilst on the same topic, I have been contacted by two members who are building homes for housing associations in Scotland. The material price inflation is affecting the viability of these projects, with the contractual risk placed on the contractor. I am now taking this issue up with the Scottish Government, as for these cases, they need to step in.

Of course, whatever the typical contract size or type of client members deliver construction services for, you will all be affected by the ongoing materials plight. Please continue to share your experiences with us and keep an eye out on our programme of webinars as we have run some and plan to run more on how to help members navigate these tricky waters.

Do you have apprentices who are overdue from completing their apprenticeship?

One month on from Scottish Apprenticeship Week I must report that significant challenges remain for over 400 construction apprentices who were due to complete their apprenticeship in 2021. The reasons for this are varied and work is underway with other federations and the CITB to rectify the problem.

With some of these 400 young people about to enter the sixth year of a four-year apprenticeship and still on apprentice wages and with employers unable to receive their completion grants, we urgently need a solution. If any members have any apprentices who are affected, please get in touch.

Changes coming your way

By the end of April, we should have confirmation from Scottish Government Ministers on what specific changes will be made to the energy standards within the building regulations. Now the FMB has fed in views via Angus Reid-Evans of Spey Building & Joinery who joined the Scottish Building Standards Working Group on this in 2021. The proposed changes are all about decarbonising the heat supply and reducing the energy demand across all buildings in Scotland.

My thanks to Angus for giving up his time to share his extensive knowledge on behalf of FMB members. As soon as I can confirm the details, I will be in touch, but the proposals include tougher emissions targets, updates to ventilation requirements and completely new chapters for tackling overheating in our homes and providing electric car charging points. Also included, which the FMB strongly supports are measures to improve the fabric insulation of new homes. The specific changes will come into force this October.

Finally, I should explain how and why I was having a virtual meeting with one of our members in Lerwick. Within our Scotland Board, we have supporting groups focused on particular areas. One supporting group is our lobbying group, who voice their views on areas we are, our ought to be lobbying on, to policy makers. It was Scotland Board member Peter Tait from D.I.T.T based in Lerwick who joined the meeting to share his views.

Authors

Gordon Nelson

Gordon Nelson

FMB Scotland Hub Director, Federation of Master Builders

Gordon has nearly twenty years’ experience of working in membership organisations in Scotland and joined the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in 2014. Prior to this, he worked at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and for Unilever in business development, membership management and business-to-business marketing roles. Amongst his responsibilities in his role as the Director for FMB Scotland are public affairs, media relations, governance and representing member’s interests to Scottish policy makers and stakeholders within the Scottish construction industry. Gordon is the Secretary of the Cross-Party Group on Construction in the Scottish Parliament, and he is a member of the Scottish Building Standards Futures Board. Gordon represents the FMB on Scotland’s Construction Industry Collective Voice: which is comprised of the leading construction trade and professional bodies. Gordon is actively involved with Site Safe Scotland, the principal committee for construction health and safety in Scotland.